About eight years ago I adopted a Jack Russell Terrier from the Norfolk animal shelter. (My previous JRT, KC, had died at the ripe old age of 16 about two years prior to this). My new dog, Jack, seemed to be exceptionally calm for a JRT, so I decided to see if he could become a therapy dog. ( I had been doing volunteer work at Norfolk Sentara General Hospital and noted two therapy dogs at the spring awards banquet. I said to my wife, "Jack is going to come to this banquet next year". She naturally scoffed at this idea.)
Well, after three obedience courses (beginner, sub-novice, and novice) Jack and I went to be evaluated, and, lo and behold, we passed with flying colors! Jack became a Certified Therapy Dog.
|We have been volunteering at Norfolk Sentara General Hospital twice a week,
visiting with doctors, nurses, and patients in the burn/trauma, medicine,
surgery, and cardiac units, as well as several of the waiting rooms around the
hospital complex. Jack has become well known throughout the hospital. We are
also visiting the Norfolk Senior Center adult daycare about once every two
It has been a very rewarding experience - many of the patients say it is the high point of their day!
Update, May 2013 -
Jack has now completed 500 visits, and has been promoted to TDI Gold status! This is TDI's highest level.
Update, July 2016 -
Sadly, I must report that we lost Jack in January. He developed a pituitary tumor, but hung on for 8 months. In his career he visited Norfolk General and other facilities more than 800 times, cheering thousands.
Update, January 2017
Last July we were fortunate to be able to re-home Sophie, a beautiful mini American Eskimo Dog. She is 4 years old and very smart and friendly. After about 8 sessions of obedience training Sophie was able to pass her TDI certification, and we are now working at Norfolk General, where she has been a great hit!
Sophie has completed her first 50 visits to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.
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